The Come Up: Of Trade Deadlines and Hard Caps...
Shakin’ It Up or Stayin’ Put
Fans and media are consumed with trade talk this time of year. It’s fun to work out all those fantasy trade scenarios in your head, and the NBA rumor mill is a blast to follow. But this year is a little different than most. The unbelievably star-studded potential free-agent pool this upcoming summer, combined with the notion that so many teams are hurting financially that the league is one giant strip-mall full of businesses having fire sales, makes for delicious fodder.
Maverick fans have had plenty of fun debating whether or not their team should utilize expiring contracts now to go get one of the talented wings supposedly available for financial relief. Would the Mavs be better off trading for Caron Butler or just keeping Josh Howard? Does Kevin Martin’s scoring ability make up for his injury issues and suspect “D?” Could Dallas land Jason Richardson from the cash-strapped Phoenix Suns for the right to overpay him for only one more year? Or why wouldn’t they just go get Andre Iguodala to be a 26-year old Robin to Dirk Nowitzki’s Batman?
ESPN’s Marc Stein is always on the case, and last Friday he wrote what some sources believe might be the Mavericks’ thinking in regards to trading before the deadline. This possible organizational opinion on Iguodala grabbed my attention:
One plugged-in source insisted this week that the Mavs have real reservations about trading Howard for Butler and are hesitant regarding Iguodala as well largely because of the four years and $56 million left on the Philly swingman’s contract after this season.
If the Mavericks think Iguodala has the talent to really add something to their lineup, why would they be concerned about paying a 17/7/6 guy who rarely misses games and will only be 30 when his contract expires? Isn’t he the type of two-way player Dallas really needs at off-guard?
Not if there’s a hard cap he’s not. If some of the predictions for the parameters of the next collective bargaining agreement are true, Iguodala will go from being a top-notch “second tier” talent to a contract that will absolutely torpedo a franchise.
Countdown to Armageddon
SI.com’s Ian Thomsen wrote a must-read, eye-opening piece last Friday that quotes a few GMs on what the next CBA will probably look like. The buzz phrase is most definitely “hard cap.” About the financial prospects for free agents such as Carlos Boozer, Amare' Stoudemire, and Rudy Gay with a hard cap on the horizon he writes:
... are you going to risk an eight-figure salary on a player who isn't likely to carry your team to the championship? If a hard cap is the new reality, then everyone in the league will be taking a new view of player salaries.
One GM Thomsen quotes sees $8 million as the new salary range for a star player, which is about the level I see Iggy. He’s not a superstar, but he’s certainly better than a really good player. So if he’s making $15 million for the Mavericks four years from now and Dirk is eating up another $15 million to $20 million of your hard cap space with another $9 million going to Shawn Marion, what’s the rest of that team looking like? Yikes!
Of course, there’s no guarantee that this doom and gloom will be the actual reality, but it’d be foolish not to take a somewhat conservative approach to what the future holds when making moves with only one year left on the current agreement. The good news is that if any owners have the stomach to go for it, it’s probably a very short list that includes Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
So if the trade deadline comes and goes without a major deal for the Mavs, remember this while you’re sharpening your sticks to storm the castle. The guy you do get when you make your major move better be the one to put you over the top. Because if he ain’t, you’re probably going to be stuck with him -- stuck between a rock and a hard cap.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett at Mavericks media day to discuss his expectations for the upcoming season.
Play Podcast Mark Cuban joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Mavericks' new GM Gersson Rosas and much more.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss Mark Cuban's comments from Las Vegas about the Mavericks' offseason, how he sees the team without Dwight Howard and more.
Play Podcast Marc Stein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why the Mavericks didn't want to match Cleveland's offer to Andrew Bynum, what's next for the Mavs and the possibility of Dirk Nowitzki ending his career elsewhere.
Play Podcast Jeff Platt fires quick-hitters at Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon in the weekly sports standoff about Andrew Bynum, the Mavs' current backcourt, a potential Nelson Cruz suspension and more.
Play Podcast ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why she thinks Andrew Bynum got a bad rap in Los Angeles and how he would fit in with the Mavericks.
Play Podcast Buy, sell or hold? If Dwight Howard goes to another team, what are the Mavs' options? The guys take a look at a list of potential fallback options.
Play Podcast ESPN's Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the latest news on the Mavericks' meeting with Dwight Howard.